Monday, October 26, 2009

Women's roles in Super Sentai

Super Sentai and Power Rangers are both series directed to young boys and we, as an audience, have gotten a mix bag of feminism. The females can't ever overshadow the male characters, especially the male leader (Except for of course, Kakuranger and Timeranger). When Goranger started, it was 1975, the time of the sexual revolution but there was still a long way to go. Momo Ranger, the first heronie, was a hero on her own right, she would go on missions on her own but she still relied on the males and she would mostly become injured and had to be save by her male counterparts. There was a sole female until the 1982 series Bioman. In the past, the Sentai heroine is mostly featured lowly in combat, except for of course Shinkenger.

In Super Sentai, often the heronies use their 'femininity' to confuse their enemies. From before Gaoranger (specifically Gaoranger vs. Super Sentai), the heronies would don swimsuits. This can be taken as objectification. That women are only good for their bodies. And villainesses have been seen as vixens or femme fatales, women that men or little boys should long for. Heronies no longer in swimsuits in the past decade could be because the producers realized times have changed and women shouldn't be objectified. If they are to be in swimsuits, then the men should too. We have seen the male heroes in swim trunks, but not to distract the female villains. But we have seen objectification, in the form of shirtless heroes like Shirogane in Gaoranger and Ikkou in Hurricanger but I mentioned that in male Eye Candy.

For those of you that don't know what a femme fatale is, they are alluring and seductive woman (archetypes) whose ensnare their lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. Villainesses have use less cleavage in recent years (except for Kegaleshia), which is funny to say less cleavage because that means we have seen more clothes and obvious cleavage would be to have less clothes on. Most villainesses in the past twenty years that have shown lots of cleavage were former adult film stars.

And how I have mentioned in my last post about story differences in Gekiranger to Jungle Fury (the post funny enough was written and completed after I started the draft for this post), Mele is a more powerful character than Camille. Feminists would be happier with Mele's characterization, Mele is the one to break out Rio out of a cage, when Camille hands Jarrod/Dai Shi the weapon she stole underhandedly and he breaks himself out. But a feminist would also point out that Mele sacrifices and compromises her ideals (she steals the dagger underhandedly after struggling against her ideal to be 'fair and square') for the one she loves. In the end, Mele dies, sacrificing herself not only for her love Rio, but for her friends and all mankind. And also to mention, Mele's voice is the only one to break Rio out of his trance in Episode 45.

Not to mention that there has been three female leaders in Super Sentai history. But White Ninja of Kakuranger and Time Pink of Timeranger are more notable, than let's say, Ran of Gekiranger--because her position as 'leader' is debatable since she didn't get much focus and fans like to point out she was appointed 'captain' and not 'leader.' Anyhoo, Yuuri of Timeranger would often go on her own and then ended up being saved by her male teammates, but it was more about using teamworks than men saving women. She was no damsel in distress. And White Ninja was more intelligent and on the ball than Ninja Red was, she was unquestioned but never officially stated that she was the leader.

The Hana Rangers were the first all-female team, but they were villains. They were actually kittens turned into human women in Kakuranger (1994). It was the first time there was a female Green warrior, in a way to be proceeded by Mele and the second time to have an Orange warrior. But I don't count them with the other Rangers in Sentai because they were an evil team, and in Sentai, evil rangers are in a class of themselves. I do count the A-Squad since SPD considered them real Rangers, they were once legitimate good guys. But the Hana Ninjas were always considered to be evil.

With Episode 38 of Go-Onger, the men were incapacitated and the girls were a mess, they were freaking out and acting like they couldn't handle a thing without the men around. Silver felt it was utterly hopeless. But Yellow helped them pull through and in the end, they kicked butt and took names, without the men.

The Color Pink and Skirts
While I have mentioned before about the color pink and how in the past in America, pink was considered for boys and blue for girls, the color Pink has gotten hostility towards femininity. I highly believe it is ridiculous to equate a color with gender. Colors have no genders! They are just colors! It is really dumb to believe pink is only for girls. It is great that the heronies have one color over the boys, but all colors should be equal, so heronies should be able to wear red, black, green, purple, and dark blue and men can wear pink. As I have mentioned before, when a heronie has the white color, she can be referred to as 'white' (White Swan, Ninja White, and Gao White) but white male heroes don't have 'white' in their names (Kibaranger, Geki Chopper, Abare Killer). And as for skirts, there are plenty of heronies that have had no skirt (Flashman, Bioman, Dekaranger, etc.) but some people think the skirt should be taken away. I could take it or leave it, I like the skirts though, they are cute. And some people think they should get rid of pink because pink is 'not a real color' because it is a light red, but I think all the shades should get a chance (like Crimson, Navy and light Blue).

Super Sentai gets their first female Red Ranger ever in the form of Karou in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (2009). She appears later in the series and not in the beginning, she is not the main character but a plot twist. The female Red Ranger first came in Power Rangers, not Sentai and then was also considered a plot twist. Karou was a nice and sane person, she 'adopted' Takeru into the Shiba family... which was unique, I thought they would marry in a traditional fashion, but it was a more modern sensible way to handle it. Karou was much younger so a marriage, even an arranged marriage would be out of the question, but the writers could had made her Takeru's age. Anyway, it still would have been awkward for them to marry because they barely know each other.

So women's roles are so-so in Sentai, there are great stuff and not so great stuff. It is a slow process but there are good female role models. Same with Power Rangers, even though women save men and can get the upper hand without relying on their male counterparts, there are still not so equal things like Mele mention before and also that women aren't allowed bikes anymore or battlizers (in SPD, Z asks Syd why they don't have their own bikes and Syd replies that they got the looks, it's an even trade---I wouldn't agree). I will mention Women's roles in Power Rangers rather soon as well.

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